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2 men arrested on suspicion of arson as firefighters battled at least 8 fires across Alameda


ALAMEDA, California — Two men were arrested for allegedly setting at least eight fires that destroyed multiple businesses and damaged homes in Northern California, authorities said Sunday.

Alameda police Lt. Jill Ottaviano said a 27-year-old Alameda resident and 22-year-old transient were taken into custody on suspicion of arson for the fires that occurred during a near four-hour stretch overnight. Their names have not been released.

The fires either destroyed or damaged five businesses, including a family-owned restaurant, the hub of a dry cleaning chain and three homes, displacing four families, Alameda Fire Chief Michael D'Orazi said. More than 70 firefighters, including crews from Alameda County and neighboring Oakland and Berkeley helped battle the flames which spread across a seven-block radius, D'Orazi said.

No injuries were reported.

The most severe fire occurred when a three-alarm blaze started underneath a car and then spread to a commercial building and affected the five businesses shortly after 4 a.m., authorities said.

A family that owns a Mediterranean-style restaurant destroyed by the fire, told the San Francisco Chronicle ( ) they recently invested their life savings into the business which had yet to open.

"It looks like a total loss," co-owner Saboor Azfari said. "We don't know what we are going to do now."

Janet and Daniel Ng, who own a chain of dry cleaners across the San Francisco Bay Area, told the newspaper that they lost the hub of their franchise and four delivery trucks because of the fire.

"I'm so sorry for our customers," Janet Ng said. "But everyone is safe. That is the main thing."

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